Qian Wen could no longer refuse the little fellow’s kindness and took a piece of chicken about the size of his thumb. He placed the meat into his mouth and carefully tasted it. The meat melted into his mouth and revealed a flavor that he would never be able to forget in his lifetime. Even when he passed the imperial court examinations in the future and was able to eat roasted chicken frequently as well as other delicacies, he could still never taste the flavor he once had…
Yu Xiaocao watched the little boys contently and felt immense satisfaction when she saw how happily her younger brother was eating. She couldn’t resist temptation and pinched his plump face. Little Shitou puffed up his cheeks and perfunctorily resisted, “Second Sister, I’m not three anymore. I’m now a student of Rongxuan Academy, so stop pinching my face. If other people see, I’ll lose face in front of them!”
“I pinch your face because I love you. It’s not like I want to pinch any strange person’s face ah! I now understand why there’s this saying: ‘when a son grows up he doesn’t want his mother anymore’. You haven’t even become an adult and have only gone to school, yet you don’t want me, your second sister, anymore, eh? How disappointing!” Yu Xiaocao twisted her head to the side and forcefully opened her eyes wide. She let the feeling of disappointment rise in her and managed to blink out a few tears as she looked accusingly at her younger brother.
Little Shitou immediately panicked and quickly put down his rice bowl. He rushed over to his second sister and hugged her arm, lightly swinging as he said, “Second Sister, you’re still my Second Sister! You will always be my good Second Sister. Don’t feel sad, I was the one who was wrong. Pinch me, pinch me however much you like…”
Qian Wen had noticed Xiaocao’s crafty actions and couldn’t help but shake his head inwardly. Although Yu Fan was clever and quick-witted, he was truly no match for his second sister’s little tricks and antics.
Xiaocao blinked her eyes, and the tears in her eyes flowed down her eyelashes onto her cheeks. A sad expression surfaced onto her face, which, when paired with the tears, made her look extremely desolate. Little Shitou almost burst into tears, and he continued with a sob in his voice, “Second Sister, don’t cry. In the future, I won’t do this again. Don’t be upset over me…”
Little Fatty Sun butted in and shoved his round, plump little face in front of Xiaocao. He loudly proclaimed, “Second Sister, don’t be sad. If Little Shitou doesn’t recognize you as his sister anymore, I’ll take his place! Look, you can pinch me all you want. I bet my face feels a lot better than Little Shitou’s!”
Xiaocao couldn’t help but let out a peal of laughter. She rubbed Little Shitou’s face and ruffled Little Fatty Sun’s hair as she said, “I was only scaring you guys, don’t take it seriously! Quickly eat more...it’s not early anymore, I still need to go back to Dongshan Village. Shitou, study well and I’ll come by tomorrow to take you home.” Tomorrow was when Shitou’s weekly break started.
Little Shitou now knew he had been tricked again by his second sister. He sniffled a couple of time and met Xiaocao’s eyes with a solemn look. He vowed, “Second Sister! Don’t worry, I will always be your Little Shitou!!”
This promise of his had been engraved deeply in his heart. Even after he became the youthful top scorer in the imperial examinations and famous throughout the land, whenever he saw his second sister shamelessly acting up, he always reverted back to his usual reaction…
Before Xiaocao could feel touched, Little Fatty Sun butted in again, “Second Sister, I will always be your Little Fatty Sun too! In the future, when you make delicious food, don’t forget to bring a portion for me ah!!”
Xiaocao pinched Little Fatty’s face, who was slightly taller than her. She didn’t know whether she should laugh or cry as she replied, “Don’t worry! Even if you don’t call me ‘Second Sister’, I’ll still bring your portion along!! Alright, I’m heading out. If I leave any later, I won’t be able to get home before it gets dark!!”
After waving goodbye to Little Shitou and his friends, Xiaocao went back to the melon stand. Lady Fang’s carriage was already ready to go. Xiaocao’s family’s two carts had just enough room to hold all of the necessities of daily living that she had bought earlier.
When Madam Zhang saw the two carts full of goods, she turned green with envy. There was a large sack of white rice, a large sack of wheat flour, and also a piece of fatty pork that weighed at least five catties. In addition, there were some fine articles of daily living that she had never even seen. She suspected that the contents of these two carts had to be worth at least ten taels. Sure enough, the family members of officials were never stingy with their spending habits.
However, the fortune teller did say that her family was going to produce an official. Once her son passed the examinations, she would also be considered the mother of an official. When that happened, she could easily walk around with her pockets full of money…
Since the carts were stuffed full of goods, their speed naturally became slower. By the time they got to Dongshan Village, the moon had just peeked through the tree line. When they passed by where Madam Zhang lived, she refused to get off the cart because she still hadn’t got ahold of the money she wanted.
“Grandmother, two hundred taels is a lot of money, so you must give us some time to get it all together!! It’s already late tonight, if there’s anything else you need to say, can’t it wait until tomorrow? We can get it done then!”
Madam Zhang had been out and about since dawn and it had taken her several hours to walk into town. She also spent a lot of time waiting outside the melon stand and couldn’t bear to spend a little money to eat lunch. After throwing a giant tantrum, she didn’t have much energy left in her body. She thought for a bit and decided that if Yu Hai wanted to renege on his promise, she would make him pay! Realizing she wouldn’t get anything today, Madam Zhang finally got off the cart and went back home.
Lady Fang watched the old lady as a feeling of resentment slowly rose within her. She sighed lightly, “Xiaocao, there’s nothing wrong with spending some money to fix a problem. However, doing this will only encourage certain people to become even more shameless. In the future, they’ll continue to do the same thing to get money out of you, and that will not be good!”
Yu Xiaocao had seen a golden light burst out of the multicolored stone on her wrist when Madam Zhang finally came off the cart. It had shot towards Madam Zhang’s head. When she heard her godmother’s worried comments, she grinned craftily and replied, “Godmother, don’t worry! The money that she wants...she won’t be able to get a single copper! Just wait and see what unfolds next ah!”
That night, a sneaky figure surreptitiously crept out of the east room of the old residence. A small golden colored kitten looked at the person contemptuously and proudly raised its head as it followed from behind.
[We’re going out to see a nice play, not to pretend to be thieves, okay? Is it necessary to act this mysterious?] The little divine stone sniffed with disdain.
“Shhhhh——” In order to leave the east room, it was necessary to go past the main room. Yu Xiaocao had been frightened by the little divine stone’s voice and subconsciously glanced towards the kang bed. Luckily, her parents’ breathing pattern remained steady and stable, showing that they were still deep asleep. If she roused her parents, then that would scratch her plans for the rest of the night.
Xiaocao carefully opened up the door. The old wooden door made a ‘creeeeeeeek——’ noise and Xiaocao was startled like a rabbit just waiting to bounce away. She clasped her hands onto her mouth and stared at the kang bed, waiting for any reaction. Her father flipped over and continued to snore heavily.
After that false alarm was over, she quietly snuck out of the door and quickly scuttled through the courtyard. She ran towards the main gate. Yu Hang, who had woken up to go to the restroom, could see a shadowy figure that resembled one of his younger sisters. A feeling of puzzlement settled into his heart. Why would his younger sister not be sleeping in the middle of the night and instead be running around outside?
Yu Hang quickly caught up with Xiaocao and lightly tapped her shoulder. Xiaocao let out a low shriek and covered her mouth. When she saw her older brother behind her, she glared at him in annoyance——scaring someone too badly could cause them to die, okay?
Yu Hang instantly recognized his youngest sister by the look in her eyes. He questioned her somewhat suspiciously, “Why aren’t you sleeping? Where are you planning on going?”
Xiaocao placed a finger to her lips to remind him to lower his voice. She then faced the main room of the house again and watched for a second before she quietly replied, “Don’t ask me here, come with me instead!”
The two of them scuttled under the moonlight and arrived at the main branch’s outer wall. Luckily, with her older brother along, Xiaocao was able to step on Yu Hang’s shoulders and climb onto the wall. When she jumped down, the little divine stone used its spiritual power to steady her a bit and she managed to avoid face planting into the ground.
Ever since he had recovered from his injuries, Yu Hang felt like his hands had become more nimble and there was more strength in his body——the little divine stone rolled its eyes, ‘This divine stone’s bathing water naturally strengthens and heals the body!’
He flipped over the wall easily. Following his younger sister’s lead, he crawled until he arrived under window of the main room. The weather was slowly warming up and the window to the main room hadn’t been closed. With the moon providing some hazy light, he was able to see the two people in the room lying on the kang bed and hear his grandfather’s thundering snoring.
Yu Xiaocao was also there, pricking up her ears to listen to the sounds coming from the main room. Yu Hang found his little sister’s antics quite amusing and lowered his voice, “Little Sister, did you especially come here to listen to grandfather snore?”
“Shhh, don’t say anything…” Xiaocao just finished her sentence when commotion arose within the inner room.
“Stay! Stay away from me!” A mournful screech echoed out of the room. Old Yu’s noisy snores suddenly stopped and, following that, the sounds of him slipping on clothing could be heard.
“Wife, wife?” Old Yu patted his wife’s arm but didn’t expect her to violently shake his hand off! Madam Zhang originally had her eyes closed but now they were opened wide, filled with shock. The expression on her face made it seem like she had just seen a ghost. She rigidly stared at the roof beams in horror, as if she had seen something up there. She screamed, “Don’t come over!! Stay away from me!!”
Old Yu followed his wife’s line of sight and looked at the beams. He discovered there was nothing there and thought that his wife was frightened by a nightmare. Because he was afraid of startling her further, he could only quietly say, “Wife, wife…”
Madam Zhang acted as if she was stuck in her own dimension. She not only woke up but also became even more agitated and started swatting the air in front of her, “I’m not afraid of you!! You’ve been dead for over a decade!! Come here, I’m not afraid of you!!”
Old Yu looked again at the roof beams and the hairs on his body all raised up. It seemed like his old wife had encountered something that wasn’t clean.
“Wife, who do you see right now?” Shivers ran down Old Yu’s spine as he quietly inquired.
“Older cousin!! You had an illness that couldn’t be cured, so living any longer wouldn’t have changed anything. Your husband was so poor from trying to treat your illness that your home didn’t even have an extra grain of rice. If you didn’t die, your husband, who’s such a good man, would have died of starvation along with you!!” The frightened expression on Madam Zhang’s face had suddenly been replaced by a cruel one. She snarled as she stared at the beams on the room as if she had just seen her archenemy.
Within Madam Zhang’s consciousness, a ghastly pale woman, who had blood coming out of all of her apertures, was staring at her with a gaze full of hate. The ghostly apparition continuously lamented, “I sheltered you out of the kindness of my own heart, why did you harm me? Why did you have to hurt me?”
“You had to die!! If you didn’t die, your husband would have never looked twice at me!! If you died, then everything you had would become mine!!” Madam Zhang seemed to have lost her marbles under the ghost’s constant questioning and suddenly screamed out the secret she had hidden inside for decades.
Old Yu was stunned by the malevolent look on Madam Zhang’s face and stared at her as if he didn’t know who she was. At that time, Madam Zhang, who had been married off to a village far west of them, had been abused by her husband’s family. After she finally had enough, she stole a dozen copper coins from the family and left with her son, begging for food, to get to Dongshan Village. She sought shelter with his first wife——Madam Zhang’s older cousin.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Happy Thanksgiving!!🦃 Thanks for supporting us!!
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Oh snap! The truth comes out, and holy moly, Madam Zhang is a horrible person! Like even more horrible than I had previously thought!